In one way, the whole of my writing life is encapsulated in Goblin Court, past and present.
Goblin Court was my second book and it is still, umpty um years later, a story that people email and talk to me about with real affection. That is like having a cat sit on your knee in front of a blazing fire at Christmas and purr hard — flattering, comforting, magical, a gift! In fact, it’s the best sort of gift that any author can have, I think. I am terribly grateful.
Goblin Court First
So when I had the opportunity to republish some of my backlist titles, Goblin Court was my first choice. And it has been the hugest fun to revisit this early story. I found I still loved my characters. It still made me laugh. And it made me realise how much I’d learned over the years — including to trust myself! So I’ve followed my instincts and made the changes I really wanted.
The Way We Were
I was a very new writer in the 70s when the first edition of Goblin Court was published and I didn’t really know what I was doing. If people talked about The Craft in those days, it hadn’t reached my youthful ears. I didn’t know one single novelist to talk to. I vaguely knew there was something called editing, because my first story had seen changes, both when it was serialised in a magazine and, later, when it came out as a book. I do remember asking for any dos and don’ts. But “Just write what you feel like,” said my agent airily. So I did.
And walked into a one of those Grey Areas which, even then, I did vaguely recognise. The magazine in question had been launched in 1911. It had loyal readers of all ages who wrote to the Editor on a regular basis. They wanted a heroine to be a nice girl. For a fair number of the purchasing punters, that meant No Sex. Not even with the hero. This, as you may imagine, did not chime with the experience-in-the-field of young women of my generation. So I privately decided that my heroine had (a) done it in the past and (b) done it with the hero; and didn’t write it down. Lucy was a secretary who played the lute and was devoted to her small niece and nephew. A Nice Girl. Sorted!
Holding Out for a Hero
What I didn’t realise, until I reread the published book (and my dear friend and critique partner pointed it out to me in no uncertain terms) was that the hero had disappeared. Yet I knew I had written several scenes from his Point of View. So I had a rummage in the bottom of my wardrobe, terrible hoarder that I am. And sure enough, there was a very faded carbon copy of the typescript I had given to the agent.Somebody had taken a scythe to him.
I think I remember someone at the time saying, “A romance is the heroine’s story. We need to stay behind her shoulder. She finds the hero powerful and mysterious. So must we.” But I don’t know whether it was agent, editor or publisher. Anyway, out went the hero’s thoughts. Instead, he strode about so enigmatically that the Village speculated on whether he was a Spy.
So now I fondly, proudly, present Goblin Court, the second edition. Still vintage — no mobile phones, no Internet, and the English countryside still supports elm trees. But the hero is back in person; the heroine is still brave, funny and competent but this time no one can mistake her for an ingénue; and all those characters and incidents which my readers told me they loved so much (as do I) are in their original state. The book is now as close to my original concept as I can get it — and 40% longer into the bargain. Enjoy!
Goblin Court is now available as an ebook download from your local Amazon